Michael Ford: Political consultant

Democratic party strategist who guided presidential candidates like Humphrey, McGovern and Mondale

Michael Ford was a political consultant who helped craft campaign strategies for dozens of Democratic candidates, including presidential hopefuls Edward Kennedy in 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984 and Howard Dean in 2004.

A veteran of nine White House campaigns and a senior adviser to several, he was described by Newsweek as having “an odd blend of boiler-room savvy and cloisterish philosophy.” He was admired as a field organiser and for his ability to inspire the young people who do much of the hard work involved in campaigning.

During Mondale’s unsuccessful 1984 race, Ford was field director, advocating “dramatic and perhaps high-risk strategies” to overcome Ronald Reagan. Among other ideas, he suggested choosing an unexpected running mate. Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman on a major-party presidential ticket. Ford served other presidential candidates, including Birch Bayh in 1976 and Jerry Brown in 1992, and managed more than 100 local, state and national campaigns.

The son of a CIA employee, he was drawn to the Democrats in part by the charisma of John F Kennedy. His early career included work for presidential candidates Hubert Humphrey, who lost to Richard Nixon in 1968, and George McGovern, who lost to Nixon in 1972. He was Jerry Springer’s chief of staff when the talk-show host was mayor of Cincinnati and campaign manager when Springer unsuccessfully ran for Ohio governor in 1982.

Michael Ford, political consultant: born Washington, DC 27 June 1948; married firstly Barbara Bison (marriage dissolved),.secondly Sally Schwartz; (one son); died Baltimore 5 November 2013.

© The Washington Post

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